Monday, November 7, 2011

Institute of Bill of Rights Talk: "Why Study Failed Constitutions? John Brown's Vision for America"

I will be giving a talk based on the book at the Law School for the College of William and Mary on November 10, 2011.  Here is a synopsis and further details of the talk:
 It is often said that winners get to write history. Well, it's also true that successful constitutions dictate what we think of as the goals and parameters of constitutionalism, along with which legal and political ideas are plausible. In this talk, Professor Robert Tsai will argue that we have much to learn from the failed constitutions of America's past. Drawing from his forthcoming book, "Defiant Designs: America's Forgotten Constitutions" (Harvard, 2012), Professor Tsai will invite the audience to examine John Brown's Constitution, reflect on what it signified on the eve of civil war, and consider the paths not taken. Today Brown is remembered for his attack on Harpers Ferry and his subsequent execution for treason. The talk will recover Brown's efforts to become a Founding Father.